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Congress approves payroll tax cut, jobless benefits

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published December 23, 2011 at 8:59 a.m. Updated December 23, 2011 at 11:18 a.m.


Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin, D-Mich., left, House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., and Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., speak to the media about the payroll tax cut at the Capitol in Washington, on Friday, Dec. 23, 2011.

— After weeks of bickering and doubt, Congress delivered a last-minute tax cut extension to 160 million workers Friday along with further unemployment benefits for millions laid off in the nation’s fierce recession and weak economic recovery.

Back-to-back voice vote approvals of the two-month special measure by the Senate and House came in a few seconds with no debate, just days after House Republican leaders had insisted that full-blown negotiations on a full-year bill were the only way to prevent an immediate tax increase on Jan. 1.

Most members of Congress were already gone for Christmas, leaving behind just a few legislators to take formal action. Obama was leaving in the afternoon for a delayed vacation in Hawaii.

The measure passed despite lingering grumbling from tea party Republicans. It buys time for talks early next year on how to finance the year-long extensions.

It will keep in place a 2 percentage point cut in the payroll tax — a salary boost of about $20 a week for an average worker making $50,000 a year — and prevent almost 2 million unemployed people from losing jobless benefits averaging $300 a week.

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 total comments

AlleyOops75 says... December 23, 2011 at 10:19 a.m.

Say what you will about the anointed one but Obama snookered the House Freshmen big time in the closing hours of the current session...One only has to look at the smirk on Obama's face to understand that he out maneuvered the republicans over a deal that shouldn't have happened anyway. It's no longer the house of's been renamed the house of prognosticators.

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aimee says... December 23, 2011 at 12:23 p.m.

Boehner: leading from behind..!!!! But then, the Republicans are always backwards about the what their constituents REALLY want..!!! Or maybe they just ignore THEM and support their corporate donors..????

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MYBUDDYTMIL says... December 23, 2011 at 12:38 p.m.

I feel so much better now. NOT. What a bunch of idiots.


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